IRS warning tax payers on potential scams as tax deadline approaches

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - With tax season upon us, so is scam season. The IRS is warning you once again, this is the time of year when scammers try to get their hands on your refund. IRS representatives say your phone could be ringing, with the scammers pretending to be them.

According to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, 1,441 scam reports were recorded last year. Nearly half of those reported scams were imposter-type scams. The scammers are posing as an organization or person you are familiar with to gain your trust and ask for money or personal information, such as the IRS. According to the Internal Revenue Service, they are expecting nearly $155 million individual tax returns to be filed this year. 

Authorities say scammers are always searching and going through extreme lengths to crack those bank accounts, and tax season is unfortunately one of the easier ways for them to target the vulnerable.
Police say one of the more common scams is through the phone, where someone calls you pretending to be from the IRS. They will claim you owe money and often use high pressure tactics, like saying an officer is on the way to arrest you if you don’t pay up.
Officers are saying don't fall for it. They say if you receive a phone call, it’s probably a scam. They say the IRS will never threaten you, demand you to make an immediate payment, and certainly won't ask for payment in the form of any kind of a gift card. The IRS will contact you through mail. While local police departments say they haven't seen a rise in any particular phone or tax scams this year, it still is the season for it.

"If this occurs, the first thing you should do is make sure you visit your local tax office, the IRS office, to make sure they don't need any more information from you. Also contact the local authorities, let us know what has occurred, provide us the phone numbers so we can document this into our system. It may not immediately lead to an arrest, but we may be able to identify a certain pattern or a phone number which may eventually be to suspect information," said Crosby.

Captain Crosby says during this time, the department uses their neighborhood watch programs as well to educate the public on what to do in the case this occurs.

Accountant at M&M Tax office, Kenneth Ferrick, said this year has really been a strain on some people because The Path Act, which stands for Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, was delayed this year. He said the refunds are usually distributed on February 15, but this year, it was delayed to February 27.

He said this delay might be a reason crooks are targeting more tax payers.

"Yeah, we have been getting more calls it seems like this year. So, I don't know if they are working the system more with the tax changes and all that with refunds being delayed somewhat. So they might be trying to get it quicker, get their money quicker, but we have seen more calls from people saying the IRS is calling me and says i'm back taxes and i'm late and this and that and we tell them no, the IRS is never going to call," said Ferrick.

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